A total of five staff nurses and five staff midwives have commenced work at University Hospital Galway (UHG ) to fill existing vacancies since April 1 2017, it was revealed at Tuesday’s regional health forum at Merlin Park University Hospital.
A further seven have confirmed start dates during the year, with 25 candidates currently in the process of being recruited.
According to chief operational officer of the Saolta University Health Group, Ann Cosgrove, these are not extra posts and will fill existing vacancies.
Cllr Mary Hoade questioned the long delay in appointments. “We are short staffed and agencies cannot fill positions quickly enough. Why is there such a long waiting time? I know it is a [lengthy] process. Why does the department not allow us to do it [the recruitment] immediately?”
The Tuam councillor also queried whether there were any planned closures of wards or theatres over the summer months.
In response to Cllr Hoade’s comments, Ms Cosgrove said that the NRS (National Recruitment Service for the HSE ) and the PAS (Public Appointments Service ) were swamped with applications even with additional resources.
Ms Cosgrove said, “You can recruit in short time on grade and panels, however, the average time to hire in March 2017 was 18.1 weeks nationally and this covered both large national processes and individual bespoke campaigns.
“In nursing there is an ongoing recruitment drive in the ICU and theatre nurses. We are constantly encouraging applications for nursing posts. We are seeing a drift [of nurses] back from the UK but we do not know if this will continue due to Brexit.”
Ms Cosgrove also highlighted that there can factors behind slow recruitment.
“If you have unforeseen circumstances, when a number of members of staff leave at the same time combined with a shortage of nurses in areas such as theatre, where there are shortages in the UK and Ireland, this can lead to a drop in numbers in a short space of time.”
Ms Cosgrove added that there were no plans to close wards or theatres over the summer months.